Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

Good Video Games?

July 26th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Video game obsessions have always mystified me.  I grew up in a household where a game console was not welcome and my turn on the computer was closely policed by a thirty-minute timer.  I appreciate these rules for what they meant at the time.  My siblings and I spent time engaging in many different activities, instead of sitting in front of the tv.  When I did spend time with friends or cousins who lost themselves in a video game world I sat on the sidelines, quietly observing, not needing to participate actively.

There are many issues surrounding video game use.  The violence issue is prevalent, though somewhat challenging, considering violence pervades every aspect of life, from sport to real-life news.  Another is physical health, as the most enduring video games require players to be sedentary.  These, and more, issues aside, denying that video games have their benefits is difficult.

Gee (2005) outlines the learning principles that “good” video games employ. Reading these makes complete sense to me.  Video games engage students on so many levels.  As an English teacher, I want my students to be actively using their minds as much as possible.  Granted, I often encourage regular reading and writing and not video gaming, but if these games are getting them to think critically, problem solve, make connections and identify with a narrative – what is the difference? I am certainly not saying that students should be playing games instead of reading or writing. Ideally, there should be a mix of all three…but that isn’t always possible for all kids. I think what I’m beginning to see and promote is the value that can be present in video games.  So many students love to play them, and a great deal of adults are quick to denounce their worth.  If students are passionate about something, how does it make them feel when their passion is depicted as a waste of time?

As educators, we place value in many different types of narratives, why not video games? What students are interested in is important.  In the ELA classroom, we have so much opportunity to give our students choice – why not let them try to design a level of a video game, or make a comparison between a game and a poem? The end product could be extremely rich and rewarding for both student and teacher.

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July 26th, 2014 · No Comments

I found Bortolotti and Hutcheon’s (2007) extremely compelling as it approaches a fairly commonplace topic in an academic and insightful way.  People are often employing fidelity discourse in their day-to-day lives, and with the multitude of movie remakes and book turned movies this is not going to end anytime soon.

I appreciate the interrogation of fidelity discourse, as I myself have often grumbled about movies not being “true enough” to the original – but why? We see the world in a very linear way, always seeking a point of origin and and moving from that place.  Many are, not so quietly, under the impression that the “original” is the truest form of a work, and any changes made in adaptations are perversions.  I love seeing these changes instead as adaptations.  It can be extremely useful to make comparisons between adaptations of the same work, but to hold them up beside one another and protest that one does not do a good enough job of mimicking the other is a complete waste of time.

I think that this discussion is relevant and worthwhile for so many reasons.  One issue that I see, having to do with the ELA classroom, is that the English discipline can be a hostile place.  “Oh, you haven’t read Brave New World? Strange.”  Intellectuals in this discipline are notorious for being snobby, and I myself notice that I hold back certain information for fear of being judged.  If I have not read a novel that everyone has read, I try to keep it to myself.  If I commit the cardinal sin of watching a movie before reading the book, I either remain quiet about it or blurt the embarrassing truth out apologetically.  There can be so much judgement in English, and there should not be. If my students want to engage critically with a movie, how is that any less valuable than engaging with a book?  If they want to creatively interpret or adapt a literary work, they should not be worried about stay “true to the original,” rather, they should be taking risks!

Bortolotti, G. and Linda Hutcheon. “On the Origin of Adaptations: Rethinking Fidelity Discourse and “Success”: Biologically.” New Literary History, Vol. 38, No. 3, Biocultures (Summer, 2007), pp. 443-458

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Video Games and Literacy

July 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

I found an article on commonalities between digital games and literacy by Apperley and Walsh, which articulates the significant educational value, particularly in the area of literacy for classroom activities. Direct quoting from Apperley and Walsh’s article, “By including the reading, writing and design of digital game paratexts (gaming language) in the literacy curriculum, teachers can actively and legitimately include digital games in their literacy instruction.” It assists teachers in identifying the elements of game play that would be appropriate for the demands of the literacy curriculum.

I have been discussing with colleagues about implementing gaming into classroom, and apparently, some people dislike the idea of taking away the fun part from what the students like to do and forcibly turning it into something educational. However, I understand the whole implementation of gaming as using the pre-existing gaming literacy skills into literacy teaching and curriculum rather than using it as a motivator as if we are trying to persuade students to feel the same kind of “fun” while learning. Young people already play by a certain set of “rules” in their gaming spaces, using characteristic tools and language, and holding certain values. There must be a value in gaming and teachers are trying to take away the goodness in it like what Apperley and Walsh are trying to argue: “[gaming literacy] provides an authentic segue between [the students’] immersion in gaming culture and gameplay practices and school-based literacy outcomes.” There is a strong correlation between the two, and I believe that it is the educators’ responsibility to make every means applicable to learning.

Then it comes down to the issue of “content.” I agree with Gee on the point that we certainly do “learn, use, and retain lots and lots of facts” (content), and these “facts come from and with the doing.” We discussed the value of bringing gaming into English language art classrooms during the seminar. I personally love playing video games, RPG (role-playing games), smartphone games, and all kinds of games in general. (I used to play video games until I realized that it was morning…) With that being said, I strongly agree with the idea that games incorporate learning principles. I personally think that I have been significantly influenced by

Also, to  support the quality and validity of literature in games, I want to draw attention to novelization of some games. There are great examples not only in North America, but the market is much larger in Asia. Video games transform into novels, movies, and comic books with considerable popularity. We do not even need to force our students to write a game script to make the topic applicable to English Language Art classes; just by discussing and treating it as a genre of literature and literacy, I think gaming has a space for education and learning in English classrooms.


Apperley, T., & Walsh, C. (2012). What digital games and literacy have in common: A heuristic for understanding pupils’ gaming literacy. Literacy, 46(3), 115-122.

Gee, J. (2005). Good Video Games and Good Learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37.

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My (even later) post about using graphic novels in classrooms

July 23rd, 2014 · No Comments


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Thoughts on txting

July 22nd, 2014 · 1 Comment

As Internet and text messaging became viral, young people began to use innovating and unrecognizable expressions and txting languages to communicate. At first, as a linguistics major student, I felt that txting lingo and all those abbreviated letters are destroying not just English but languages in general just because it violates the standards to the extent that some texts are unrecognizable without an explanation. After reading Carrington’s article, his view on txting as a new genre that innovates and enriches language widened my perspective on this evolutionary change of expression. Yes, I agree that txting should be considered as a new form of communication as a cultivated mix of formal and informal language. Technology has brought this new form of language and according to some statistics, 95% of cell phone users between the age of 18 to 29 send text messages. However, texting is not even 20 years old and within this short period of time, this new form of language genre became extremely viral that even linguists feel threatened.

However, as Carrington points out himself, “there is also no room for an engagement with, or co-option of, new forms of text as they evolve around new technologies and social practices,” the language has a shifting trend without a policy or standard. This may help develop stylistic adaptations that account for the loss of socioemotional features, but at the same time, it can also cause communication error between people who use txting language and who do not. This I believe is the main reason for why older generations tend to regard txting language as a disease.

In Korea, there is a chat app namely KakaoTalk, which is similar to What’s App. The total number of registered users, as of April 2014, is 140 millions worldwide. From children to elderly, almost everyone in Korea use this app instead of using SMS text messaging. The app allows you to send pictures, videos, create a group chat, create a poll, calendar, voice call, and connect to personal blogs. On top of these functions, the app provides animated and vivacious emoticons. As Whitney mentioned in class, some people are evidently clever at using the perfect emoticons at the right situation. These emoticons are upgrades from what Facebook or special characters that smartphones already provide. I think the meanings are quite self-explanatory.


The app is not only used among young generation, but it also allows parents to communicate with children, teachers with students, businessmen with businessmen and even people who meet on craigslist communicate through KakaoTalk. Some people even post the screenshots of their conversations with others to tell stories. It has become such a powerful mean of communication and culture that no other form of language or text can allow us to do.

Part of the reason I believe is being able to express feelings and emotions that we were not able to convey through texts. We already have been through hundredfold of linguistic transformation throughout the ages. The problem is not only about txt language signifies a decline in language nor it evolving spoken language; but we should also focus on side effects. My only concern at the moment is how we can educate our students to differentiate between txt language and academic language. Not every teacher will be able to teach the difference unless they fully understand what txt language is.

Carrington, Victoria. “Txting: the end of civilization (again)?” Cambridge Journal of Education 35.2 (2005): 161-175. Web. 8 July 2014.

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Weblog #2- Gaming

July 21st, 2014 · No Comments

“How do you get someone to learn something hard, long, complex, yet enjoy it?”

This is a great core question raised by Gee in the article; after all, it is one of the many struggles that teachers face in the classrooms.

To be honest, how many students would choose to take English classes if they had the choice? In my younger days, I would have avoided the subject like the plague if it were not for my grade twelve English teacher. To reflect on the question, the root of learning is to actively enjoy gaining knowledge and skills as it is human nature to enjoy learning. But oftentimes, schooling makes it not. Referring to the article, I am not implying video games are the only the solution to boring classrooms; I believe that it is not harmful to utilize gaming to cater to students’ interests and engage them in English classes

As well, the article does not advocate playing video games in class; rather the focus is on educating through the principles of gaming. For example, all too often students are learning content to pass tests; they have not acquired the knowledge and often have difficulties in applying the knowledge to other problems without practice. However, in video gaming, people often learn various skills through incessant practices (that are fun, usually) and apply it in different contexts and situations. Then, is it not time to deviate away from the conventions of traditional schooling (a bit) and reconsider what teachers can do to make learning “doing”?

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QR Code Scavenger Hunt

July 21st, 2014 · 1 Comment

Because of the complexity of our literacy project, which involved our class to run around all of Scarfe looking for clues, it has taken much thought and discussion regarding what would be the most appropriate and effective way to post up our project.

And likewise, it would also seem very ironic if we were to just post everything here. Therefore, we have attached all our materials into QR Codes (with links at the very bottom because I understand that scanning QR Codes while on a blog may be very inconvenient).

So here we go!

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Media Project Rationale and Rubric for Robb, Peter, Justin, Rahela, and Brian

July 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments

This is the Media Project 2 Rationale and Rubric for Peter, Robb, Rahela, Justin, and Brian.

Media Project 2 Rationale and Rubric

Geoanimate Project: Media Project 2 by Geezers on GoAnimate

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My (very late) thoughts about our presentation & connections to the course

July 20th, 2014 · No Comments

During the beginning of our presentation on folksonomies and collective knowledge, a comment was made about how a classmate does not like to participate in online information sharing for fear of being harassed by trolls.  I, too, share these sentiments as I am an avid reader of blogs and articles but rarely, if ever, have I consciously participated by sharing my own thoughts and feelings.  The idea of being bombarded by strangers for being wrong or being misinformed is something I do not want to experience.

After our presentation, I started to think about why this bothers me so much.  One idea that I struggle with is not being an expert.  What I mean by expert is that when I post online I want to be as knowledgeable as possible and make sure that I am posting something that is truthful.

Over this term, I have had to write blog posts and comment on my classmate’s work a number of times.  While I see the merit in this type of exercise as it creates a place for discussion, I was also very hesitant to post my own thoughts and feelings.  I have had the experience of posting both anonymously for one class and with my name for another class.  I thought this would make a difference but I do not believe it affected me as much as I had previously assumed.  What I did find that made a difference in my contributions was my level of comfort and expertise with the subject matter.  In 1 class (where my name was made visible to my classmates), I made significantly more comments and posts as opposed to a class where I felt less comfortable with the material.

Lankshear and Knobel’s article “Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New Literacy” look at the idea of “collective intelligence” and the Internet “as open, continuous and fluid”.  What I struggle with is the collective part of this “collective intelligence”.  While I want to be a creator / producer in this space, I am still hesitant about whose space this is.  What authority do I have in this space of knowledge creation?  I know this example of a class blog seems like a silly example but I think it speaks to the fact that other students may feel the same way about navigating the online blogging atmosphere.

I want to end with a question I have as an educator still trying to figure out where I stand and fit in with this creation of a “collective intelligence”: how can I as an educator (and participant) make my students feel more comfortable sharing and posting ideas about topics that they are not experts about?


Works Cited

Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M.(2006). Blogging as Participation: The Active Sociality of a New Literacy. American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, US.


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Performance Poetry

July 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments

“You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting…It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.” Gertrude Stein

My second multimedia project for this course focuses on the process of poetic composition. I used Quicktime to screen capture my creative process as I wrote. When I showed this performance to my class they suggested that the poem might do well to be scored. I instantly thought of Mozetich’s “Postcards From the Sky” (look it up). So, as for my piece–watch it and consider having your ELA classroom experiment with their own performance poems. Don’t worry about a “rubric”. This is a process, remember? It’s all about feedback. Have a conversation about it. Have 3.

My performance can be seen here.

Incidentally, here is the process of an 8 year old in action writing about Minecraft and then drawing a picture inspired by her poem:

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

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